Kevin Jones from Engaged Learning has a bunch of posts about objections to social learning, basically objections to web 2.0 behind the firewall.
I really like these posts because they are a quick answer kit for when people doubt social tools at work.
Here are a few that really grabbed me.
This one is what web 2.0 is all about and what KM has strived for all along, knowledge transfer.
“Too often we, in the training field, get stuck on how to ‘train’ rather than on how to help our ‘customers’ learn which in turn drives results, which is the real goal. Our focus should be on LEARNING, not training.”
“…social learning compliments training and covers knowledge formal training was never able to reach. It is in addition to, without having huge amounts of formal resources needed to deliver.
In another post Kevin relates this to the long tail, which is, “…products that are in low demand or have low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers”
“Let me put that in Learning terms, “That information which needs to be learned and which is in low demand or has low visibility can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current learning initiatives, if the distribution mechanism is large enough.””
“If we can make the tools that capture the knowledge lightweight and simple, we can harness the collective knowledge and use it to our advantage. The sharing then becomes a natural part of how an employee does their job.”
It really is viral, as he says social learning becomes the dominant learning process, “…superseded in size the traditional, formal learning in business”
He draws the big picture that I’ve heard David Weinberger say before, in that it’s a change from the economics of scarcity to the economics of abundance.
This is similar to the one above, people working it out among themselves (self-organising)
“For the most part, anyone can post anything. Be it right or wrong…And, as counterintuitive as this may seem at first, it is not all bad.”‘
“Number one, the training department didn’t need to ‘write’ it. Instead the employees taught each other. How great is that? Ya, it is not as pretty as a powerpoint presentation you may have given, nor quite as polished, but it was good information everyone needs to know and now anyone can find it!”
He then alludes to self-organisation and sitting on the fence to steer what manifests, sounds like cognitive edge thinking.
“By implementing a social learning solution you sit on the control fence. Control to much and it won’t be used. But not controlling it at all is unwise. There needs to be a balance - enough structure and processes to give guidance yet enough freedom to allow the users to do what they want.”
What if someone posts inaccurate information (unlike email it’s visible to a lot of people), and someone acts on it?
I actually mentioned this in a previous post as the garderns job, to go back to old posts and re-edit them or use comments to correct situations. But this is self-organised as well, the ecosystem may correct itself to an extent, people are quick to catch people out and correct things. The blogosphere is self-regulating in this way, you say something that is bad practice, and you are knocked down…in the enterprise I would hope that you don’t lose your credibillty (once bitten twice shy).
Actually, these occurrences are lessons learned we all witness in the open blogs, so we all learn from it as it happens, we experience it together…it sticks in our minds.
I almost like the idea that the openess and informalness of blogs can reveal bad practice. If you want to stamp out bad practices start some internal blogs, people’s inaccuracies will come to light, we can all evolve and correct behaviour. It’s like the wound healing itself.
Kevin shares a story where a manager didn’t like the idea of non-authoritative people posting for all to see for fear of inaccuracy and the consequences that may follow.
“Leaving the meeting she walked by some cubes where she overheard one person describing an HR policy to the other person that was completely incorrect. And the second person took it as gospel.”
She suddenly realized, 1) How many times does this happen and I don’t know about it? 2) If they asked this question using the tools we were talking about, more people would be able to respond and the right answer would surface
What a great story!
Kevin shares a classic success story at Intel, involving finding a person with the right skill to help you with your task, simply because they participate, their on the map, they are visible and findable in their blog posts. Further to this they are now a new contact in your network.
“There was a person who needed to accomplish a task. To do so, that person needed to use a piece of software they had never heard of, let alone knew enough about to functionally use it. It would take months to learn it and complete the task.
Instead of forging on, they searched the blogs and found someone who mentioned that they did another project using the software. This second person was contacted and asked to help. Within a matter of a few weeks the project was done.
Now, tell me, how many blog posts was the efficiency gain worth? Add up not only the time saved by one individual, but the advantages for a quicker ‘time to market’ for this project.”